By Anna Maria Giambanco DiPietro, Contributing Editor
With chillier temps and cozy nights upon us, autumn is an excellent time to switch up your self-care routine. It need not be a costly, time sucking endeavor; Adding olive oil and olive oil-based products to your regimen is a time-honored way to achieve hydrated, plump skin, healthier gums, hair, and nails. As Virgil said, "And with the sprig of a fruited olive, man is purified in extreme health."
Sure, you've cooked with olive oil forever, but have you ever used it as a cleanser or conditioning treatment for your scalp? Olive oil is moisturizing, antibacterial, and vitamin-rich (it contains vitamins A, D, E and K). Olive oil minimizes breakouts and unclogs pores, as dermatologists recommend vitamins A and E to treat acneic skin. Taking olive oil internally and using it as a gentle face wash might just be the 1-2 punch congested skin needs.
I recently sat down with Theo Stephan, olive oil sommelier and owner of Global Gardens in Los Olivos, CA. Theo grows olives and produces artisanal oils from trees she planted over 20 years ago in Santa Barbara County, CA.
She summed up olive oil’s historic use by sharing "Olive oil was used in ancient times as skincare by everyone from gladiators to queens!". Spending time at her facility helped me to see this green elixir in a new light. Theo added that "Naturally occurring polyphenols - particularly in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, are a major asset in creating antioxidants, promoting a healthy body and skin".
To help get you started, here are two simple ways to use olive oil outside of the kitchen:
Simply swishing a tablespoon of olive oil in your mouth once daily can improve your oral microbiome. What’s that? Your oral microbiome consists of helpful microbial groups living on the tongue, cheeks, and teeth. (Whew, that was a mouthful!) Think of it as your mouth's immune system.
Studies have shown that oil pulling reduces inflammation, cavity-causing bacteria, and gum disease. Whiter teeth, improved breath and pink, healthy gums are all positive effects of oil pulling. Experts suggest moving the oil around your mouth for 1-2 minutes (the way you would use mouthwash) after flossing and brushing. Ayurvedic consultants suggest swishing for longer periods of time (some say 5-10 minutes daily), for immediate benefits.
Oil Scalp Massage
Massaging olive oil onto your scalp once a month is another simple at-home spa ritual that helps prevent hair loss and heal dehydrated, itchy scalps. Set aside 1/4 cup of olive oil and spill a bit into your palms, warming the oil in your hands before you apply. Massage slowly, in a circular pattern, being careful not to scrub the scalp aggressively. Use the pads of your fingers, never the nails; this is meant to be a nurturing, soothing treatment. Enlisting the help of a loved one, and trading scalp massages is a nice way to rev-up the day spa vibe. Wrap your hair with a fluffy towel and leave on for 10-15 minutes, before rinsing, shampooing, and conditioning as normal.
Before scrolling down for my DIY lip scrub recipe, check out our picks for fab olive oil based products:
Heather sources her olive oil locally, her line is cruelty-free, and she also creates hydrating mists, body butters, face, and body washes from scratch at her lab in Santa Ynez, CA. An antioxidant rich "smoothie for your skin", this serum protects, hydrates, and evens out skin tone.
PC: Heather Grace Skincare
I can't get enough of this clean beauty line made in Santa Barbara, CA. Formulated with local, organic lavender and olive leaf, antioxidant rich grapeseed plus shea butter in a vegan formula made with the finest quality certified organic oils.
PC: The Grapeseed Company
A local, Italian monocultivar varietal, made from organically grown Frantoio olives. The fruit is harvested from a grove in Santa Ynez, CA. Perfect for dipping, frying, and sautéing. Global Gardens also offers a subscription option that makes for a unique gift for your foodie pals.
L'erbolario Loti L'erbolario Lip Balm
This Lip Balm restores the softness and suppleness of your lips, with the traditional properties of rich olive oil and the balsamic action of tea tree essential oil, paired with the properties of Vitamin E.
And now, for this article’s homespun skincare fun . . .
Kissable DIY Lip Scrub
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Mix the ingredients in a small bowl or cup and apply to clean, lipstick-free lips. Using a gentle, circular motion, work the scrub allover your lips. Leave on for 1-2 minutes, then rinse with warm water, pat dry and apply your favorite lip balm.
Have fun experimenting with olive oil as part of your at home spa experience. Whether drizzling high-quality EVOO over dark leafy greens, your scalp, or both, I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy season.
Photo Credits: Global Gardens, Grapeseed Soap Company, L’erbolario, Heather Grace Skincare